Fred Gaudelli knew NBC would have to come up with something grand for this season’s “Sunday Night Football” opener since the NFL is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
It didn’t take long for the show’s executive producer to arrive at something: Carrie Underwood came up with the perfect idea.
This season, the show will open with the original “Waiting All Day for Sunday Night” song, but now Underwood will be joined by Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Joan Jett. Jett’s band, the Blackhearts, perform on the studio tracks.
A preview of the new opener will air during Sunday’s preseason game between Pittsburgh and Tennessee.
“Waiting All Day for Sunday Night” was adapted from Jett’s 1988 hit “I Hate Myself for Loving You.” Pink performed it first in 2006, followed by a country version sung by Faith Hill for six seasons and then Underwood, who did her own version from 2013 to 2015.
“It is a perfect way to celebrate the league’s 100th season by going back to the beginning,” Gaudelli said. “It is a perfect way to evolve and celebrate the song.”
Gaudelli has known Jett and her manager, Kenny Laguna, for over 20 years. Their first collaboration came when Gaudelli was working for ESPN and Jett did a cover of “Real Wild Child” for the first X Games.
When Gaudelli moved to NBC in 2006 after the network acquired the Sunday night rights, he knew what he wanted as the theme song.
“We came up with different versions but when we called her and played a version, she said it was a great idea,” Gaudelli said.
When Pink opted not do a second season, Gaudelli called Jett and asked her if she wanted to do the open in 2007, but she declined.
When Hill’s version of the song debuted, Laguna called Gaudelli and told him she always wanted to do a country version of “I Hate Myself for Loving You.”
This is Underwood’s seventh year as the featured performer for the opener.
“I have always been a huge fan of Joan’s, and I’m thrilled that she’s joining us for the Sunday Night Football open,” Underwood said in a statement. “What better way to pay homage to the original SNF opening song than by getting to play with her on prime time’s biggest stage?”
Underwood, a seven-time Grammy winner, sang “Oh Sunday Night” for two seasons and “Game On” last year.
“Oh Sunday Night” was adapted from “Somethin’ Bad,” Underwood’s duet with Miranda Lambert from 2014.
The use of “Game On” last season is the basis of a lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court in June . A songwriting team has sued Underwood, the NFL and NBC, saying they stole a song and “slightly modified” it. The lawsuit also notes that Underwood’s version carried the same title as a song singer Heidi Merrill of Newport Beach, California, put on an internet music video two years ago.
The new opening, which will debut before the Sept. 7 game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots, was shot at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It was the first time it has been shot at an NFL stadium instead of a sound stage.
NBC will announce the players who will participate in the opening next week, but the list is expected to include Dallas QB Dak Prescott, Chicago LB Khalil Mack and Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield
This isn’t Jett’s first foray into sports this year. She performed “Bad Reputation” during Wrestlemania in New York in April. Rhonda Rousey has used the song as her walkout music in the WWE and when she fought in the UFC.